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R00kie

Stormtroopers are people too

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I'd like to reinforce that imperial Stormtroopers, Tie pilots and minor functionaries serving the empire are people too. The emperor is evil, the empires objectives and aims are wrong, the way its treats people (and particularly aliens) is horrible, and evil people tend to end up in positions of power, but the common trooper is often just doing a job. 
 
In my first session some of my players showed a desire to kill rather indiscriminately, often using it as a first resort. One of them is then happily looting bodies. In fact on one occasion they chose to shoot someone in the head, rather than talking to them and asking a favour. If that's what they really want to do I'm not going to stop them - although the repercussions will be worse. The Imperials are more likely to come down rather heavy handedly when units are killed or small outposts get wiped out, than if the same objectives were achieved by deceit, stealth, subterfuge or charm (without the body count).
 
I do however want to introduce the idea that many of the imperials are just people doing a job though. I want to humanise them. I had a couple of thoughts:
 
1) I can introduce a location where off duty Stormtroopers spend their time. Perhaps a pub or cantina? Surprisingly they'll talk about the same things as everyone else - Life back home, their hopes and aspirations, their family, their women (or men), their fears, their lost comrades.
 
2) Looting is going to find the sort of stuff real people might carry with them. Photos, keys, mementos, library and membership cards and small change.
 
3) Finally in the near future (whenever a certain characters family obligation triggers), I'm introducing a sub-plot where a characters sister calls on them to help. Her son (the characters nephew) dreams of getting off planet away from mundane life, and sees joining the Imperial Academy and becoming a pilot as their way out. She wants them to talk the kid out of it. This allows me to introduce some of the reasons people join the imperials through the mouth of a friendly character. It also highlights that but for a chance encounter with 2 droids Luke would have joined the Imperial navy.
 
But if mayhem and slaughter, and looting bodies is what they want I'm not doing anything beyond these steps to stop them. Its their game as much as mine. I'd just like to remind them that Stormtroopers are people too. It might be a much shorter game though. Mad violent mayhem isn't the sort of game I generally enjoy and I'm much more likely to find ways to wrap the game up quickly, with a reasonable conclusion, if I'm not enjoying it.
 
(I'm also going to talk to the players out of game and make my preference for game style known.)

 

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Could it be that, perhaps, your players actually want to play something other than Star Wars?

I absolutely agree that it is their game... and by the sounds of it they might be happier playing Battlelords of the 23rd Century or Rifts or something else that more military sci-fi and less space opera. Nothing wrong with that... play the games you enjoy but it sounds to me like you're trying to fight the symptoms and not the cause...

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(in before ErikB derails topic!)

 

I kinda agree with you, SW isn't about casual murder and looting.  Han Solo and Boba Fett could be ruthless but they weren't psychopaths.

 

On the other hand, I don't remember Han or Luke caring much about shooting stormtroopers either. 

 

Weren't stormtroopers retconned as being clones anyway? By Order 66, they're just biological droids, really, so yeah, shoot as many as you like.  

 

But... don't even droids have feelings too?

 

I'm outta here.  This is going no place good...

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Weren't stormtroopers retconned as being clones anyway? By Order 66, they're just biological droids, really, so yeah, shoot as many as you like.

Not anymore they are. The production of clones has stopped, and normal recruitment has started.

 

Anyone who want to take a closer look at the Empire from the PoV of the normal people serving it (mostly Stormtroopers) then I can highly recommend the novel Allegiance by Timoyhy Zahn and the comic series Star Wars: Empire

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Could it be that, perhaps, your players actually want to play something other than Star Wars?I absolutely agree that it is their game... and by the sounds of it they might be happier playing Battlelords of the 23rd Century or Rifts or something else that more military sci-fi and less space opera. Nothing wrong with that... play the games you enjoy but it sounds to me like you're trying to fight the symptoms and not the cause...

I entirely agree - which is why I'm taking a two pronged approach to this.

The other step is a frank and open discussion about what we want from the game. There is absolutely no point in a GM trying to run a game his players don't want: it will just lead to disaster. Either we find common ground or we part. I'm hoping we'll find common ground and I am willing to move. Having said that I know that I'm not the only one who doesn't want a blodd bath - I think we've got a whole range of expectations in the group.

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(in before ErikB derails topic!) I kinda agree with you, SW isn't about casual murder and looting.  Han Solo and Boba Fett could be ruthless but they weren't psychopaths. On the other hand, I don't remember Han or Luke caring much about shooting stormtroopers either.  Weren't stormtroopers retconned as being clones anyway? By Order 66, they're just biological droids, really, so yeah, shoot as many as you like.   But... don't even droids have feelings too? I'm outta here.  This is going no place good...

I've not got a problem with fighting and killing storm troopers. It's the merciless unprovoked killing of anyone associated with the empire that worries me.

Han shot when he was threatened, or his life depended on it, or he was involved in military action. I can't think of a single time he shot a minor functionary for just being there.

I think my issue is that some of the players at the moment aren't coming across as anti-heroes. They are quite clearly the villains if the piece. They've sunk lower than the Empire and I can tell you if I was a citizen if that Galaxy Far Far away I'd be supporting the Empire in Police action against them.

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Weren't stormtroopers retconned as being clones anyway? By Order 66, they're just biological droids, really, so yeah, shoot as many as you like.

Not anymore they are. The production of clones has stopped, and normal recruitment has started. Anyone who want to take a closer look at the Empire from the PoV of the normal people serving it (mostly Stormtroopers) then I can highly recommend the novel Allegiance by Timoyhy Zahn and the comic series Star Wars: Empire
Thanks for the recommendation.

If it's available for kindle I'll pick it up tonight.

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They've sunk lower than the Empire and I can tell you if I was a citizen if that Galaxy Far Far away I'd be supporting the Empire in Police action against them.

Sounds like that's exactly what needs to be made clear. Put them at odds with the Rebel Alliance and local authorities for wanton murder...

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(in before ErikB derails topic!)

 

Hi!

 

They've sunk lower than the Empire

 

That implies you haven't been having your villains kick enough dogs.

 

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/KickTheDog

 

(In Star Wars, Vader comes on and instantly snaps a prisoners neck. Then the Empire kill Lukes aunt and Uncle (and a bunch of Jawas). Then vader force strangles a subordinate and tortures Leia. Then the Death Star blows up a defenceless planet. All classic dog kicking.

 

In Empire Vader keeps on strangling subordinates, tortures Han and Chewie, and doesn't play straight with Lando.

 

And Jabba drops a slave girl who objected to him molesting her in to a rancor pit to be eaten, and his droid master is just sitting around torturing droids.

 

Are you putting in as much effort as the Star Wars movies do to establish how loathsome the bad guys are?)

Edited by ErikB

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Are you putting in as much effort as the Star Wars movies do to establish how loathsome the bad guys are?)

 

Yes, but it sounds like the GM is having issues with his players being sadistic psychopaths, as bad as the worst the Empire has to offer.

 

It sounds like they are just shooting non-stormtrooper Empire staff just for kicks - minor functionaries who are just punching a clock or cashing a paycheck. 

 

I mean, Boba Fett is broadly one of the bad guys, and even he never killed anyone just for laughs.

 

We know Vader and Jabba and Palpatine and Tarkin are evil to the core. That doesn't mean every single Empire official is a sadistic monster. 

 

Just because Hitler is evil, it doesn't mean you're justified in shooting his typing pool.

 

But we've had this conversation before and look where it went... <sigh>

Edited by Maelora

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minor functionaries who are just punching a clock or cashing a paycheck.

 

The guys who are just following orders?

Edited by ErikB

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That implies you haven't been having your villains kick enough dogs.

 

It sounds more like a classic case of "just because someone else kicked your dog, doesn't make it all right for you to kick their dog." A dog-kicking jerk is a dog-kicking jerk.

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Sounds like that's exactly what needs to be made clear. Put them at odds with the Rebel Alliance and local authorities for wanton murder...

 

 

I think you're doing the right thing by talking to them.

 

Actions should have consequences - murdering non-combatants would have Obligation consequences like Criminal, or Bounty Hunters on their trail.  Any of them Force-sensitives? Casual murder will push you into the Dark Side quicker than you can say 'Anakin'.  

 

But unfortunately, playing hardball with the players seldom works if you're not on the same page. You need to tell them what you expect of them - that EoE characters are scoundrels and fringers, not psychopaths - and if they simply can't see that, and you're not prepared to indulge their nasty murder fantasies, you'll have to find another group, as sad as that seems.

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The guys who are just following orders?

 

I don't feel that shooting Hitler's gardener, or hairdresser, or typist, would be justified.

 

Do you?

 

There's an argument to be made that someone who worked in a concentration camp, witnessed daily atrocities, and didn't do anything about it, might be culpable even if he didn't personally kill or torture anyone.

 

But that doesn't mean it's okay to blame Hitler's dentist, or the guy who cleaned his toilet, for his crimes.

 

(Why am I even responding? This thread is *toast* the moment the mods see it!)

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Players are sociopathic murderers with no regard for anyone but themselves. People have noted, but overlooked this fact for years.

 

Yours might be.

 

Mine are not. 

 

I make it very clear what will and what will not be tolerated at my table.

 

Maybe I've just been lucky, but pretty much everyone I've played with in the 35 years I've been role-playing wanted to be the heroes, or at least an anti-hero.  Nobody wanted to be the villains.

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3) Finally in the near future (whenever a certain characters family obligation triggers), I'm introducing a sub-plot where a characters sister calls on them to help. Her son (the characters nephew) dreams of getting off planet away from mundane life, and sees joining the Imperial Academy and becoming a pilot as their way out. She wants them to talk the kid out of it. This allows me to introduce some of the reasons people join the imperials through the mouth of a friendly character. It also highlights that but for a chance encounter with 2 droids Luke would have joined the Imperial navy.

 

What if this "son" figure had a brother who was a stormtrooper. The son is very proud of his big bro. And describes he was station at location 'X' (Oh no... the PCs were just there a month ago), but big bro was killed by some rebels. They shot him in the head, mom couldn't even give him a proper funeral. (Hmm... that story sounds familiar). Big bro joined the corp to get credits to send back to his family, when he graduated from the academy, it was the proudest day of mom's life.

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Maybe I've just been lucky, but pretty much everyone I've played with in the 35 years I've been role-playing wanted to be the heroes, or at least an anti-hero.  Nobody wanted to be the villains.

 

I've been lucky with that as well.  In some ways I was the worst...I remember a game when I was 17 and in order to deter some orcs following us I wanted to be like Beorn in the Hobbit, and nail the most recent dead orc to the dungeon door.  A couple of friends gagged and said it was a sick idea.  Been on the good side ever since  :)

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I make it very clear what will and what will not be tolerated at my table.

 

I think the most important thing is that everyone is on the same page. If the players want to be murderous space pirates, it's probably something they should have discussed with the GM before the game.

 

Playing the villain of the story can be fun, but it does require that everyone knows that's what you're doing, so talk it out first (this also helps with the situations where the murder hobo PCs think they're the good guys.)

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minor functionaries who are just punching a clock or cashing a paycheck.

 

The guys who are just following orders?

 

 

Yeah, you know, people with families, kids who won't understand why daddy was shot, kids who will grow up to be stormtroopers and raise itty bitty stormtroopers of their own.

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Players are sociopathic murderers with no regard for anyone but themselves. People have noted, but overlooked this fact for years.

 

Yours might be.

 

Mine are not. 

 

I make it very clear what will and what will not be tolerated at my table.

 

Maybe I've just been lucky, but pretty much everyone I've played with in the 35 years I've been role-playing wanted to be the heroes, or at least an anti-hero.  Nobody wanted to be the villains.

 

 

Our group has a LOT less playing time... I've only got 3 months of experience. But, my GM has been playing since a gazillion years ago.... when he was 12... so (doing the math) that would be 1977 or 1978. I can't even imagine!!!!

 

Anyway, he gave us this sort of warning. I don't know if the players were murder hobos (someone had to explain that to me!) in games they played before I joined but they're definitely not in EotE. Violence happens. It isn't always a last resort but it hasn't really been a first resort, either.

 

On top of that, we've NEVER fired on a stormtrooper. If we see them, we take that as the signal to find another way. We turn away from them because they're scary and, as my GM puts it, when we defeat 2, someone sends 6 to find out what happened. But I still don't think I want to be wondering if a stormtrooper has a family at home or a cat that needs feeding! The Emperor's gardener and dentist might not be evil but the Stromtroopers are the ones making sure that the Emperor's evilness is enforced throughout the galxy. So, if a Stormtrooper has a cat, it is probably an EVIL cat.

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But I still don't think I want to be wondering if a stormtrooper has a family at home or a cat that needs feeding!

 

 

There's something in that. 

 

Let's ask ourselves; what is Star Wars?  Bad stuff happens, but the movies do not dwell on it.  Han staggers out of the torture chamber, saying : 'they didn't even ask me anything!'.  We don't need to see the torture scene. 

 

Star Wars has some smooching, but not explicit sex scenes.  We see the aftermath of Owen & Beru, not their deaths. The heroes shoot some enemy soldiers, but they are not seen as being psychotically murderous.  We know Jabba had it coming, but Leia doesn't kill everyone on the sail barge.

 

In a Star Wars game, we expect to shoot a few stormtroopers.  There's a war on and everything, plus, they will be shooting at you, whether you're a scoundrel or a Rebel commando.  Shooting them back is okay.

 

Which is why 'stormtroopers as clones' works for me.  The characters don't care if they just shot trooper 8325102B.  They need not worry if he was really 'Timmy the Trooper', or had a wife and kids, or went fishing with his buddies on the weekend.  He was just a soulless clone in an iconic 'evil minion' costume. He spent his downtime worshipping the Emperor or polishing his armour.  I think that's okay myself.  Han didn't beat himself up over shooting stormtroopers, so neither should EoE characters for the most part.

 

This gives the players something they can cheerfully shoot at without moral issues - nobody cares if they are shooting roger-roger droids after all.

 

However, human followers of the Empire, that's a different story. 

 

That's what works for me, Your Mileage May Vary. 

 

 

Edited by Maelora

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